Friday, June 27, 2008

The Thunderbolt Kid

Thanks to Kathy Simpsons's strong iced coffee, I was able to get a lot
of reading done last night. After three hours of clauses, verbs, nouns,
participles,modifiers, and many other important paraphernalia of the
English language, however, my brain started to hurt. To give my cranium
a rest I decided to switch to something light hearted instead.
on my bookshelf, buried under Wordsworth, Lawrence, and Conrad,I
knew, was a book I purchased on my recent trip back from England.
Traveling with a two year old and considering the "very unlikely" event
of an emergency landing(crash) it seemed like a good idea to buy
something funny. I chose Bill Brysons's latest work " The Life and Times of The Thunderbolt Kid", an account of his childhood in Des Moines
???, Iowa. Luckily, there was no unexpected landing. There was,
however, a Thunderbolt Kid of my own that prevented me from even
starting to read the book.

Anyway, as I frantically tore through
masterworks of English literature, I found what I was looking for. It
took a moment to get back into Bryson's unconventional style of writing,
and as I lay there in my bed-- at midnight--tears of laughter streaming
down my face, desperately trying not to wake my husband by laughing out
loud, I remembered that it was this guy who really made me want to
become a writer. Bill Bryson and his Rabelaisian delight of using
scatological language, his love for lists, dramatic exaggerations and
endless rampages and digressions. His publication "Notes from a Small
Island" is still one of my favorite books. I attribute that to the fact
that his love for that very island reminds me so much of my own feelings
for the British Isles, a place I called home for more than ten years.
Apart from that, the book is really funny. Thunderbolt Kid is amusing in
a very different way. Here is a passage that--I thought--was hilarious!!
every summer, at the start of the mosquito season, a city employee in
an open jeep would come to the neighbourhood and drive madly all over
the place - over lawns, through woods, bumping along culverts, jouncing
into and out of vacant lots - with a fogging machine that pumped out
dense, colourful clouds of insecticide through which at least eleven
thousand children scampered joyously for most of the day"
In his
book, he states that "...perhaps a generous dusting of DDT would do us
good", and that is exactly the light hearted attitude and broad minded
outlook that I enjoy about Bryson's writing. There is so much humour
(mostly very dark) satire and a bit of sarcasm that makes reading it a
pleasure. By the way, all his books are great fun!!!

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